Write Start (11-15): Surayya Carrington has a colourful encounter with Shalini Seereeram

“[…] I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at the person sitting on the bus bench. My body quivered and my heart throbbed. Something inside urged me to get closer to them. 

“Drawn closer, it felt like I was wading through knee-deep water. My throat ached and my mouth went completely dry. Standing beside them, I knew exactly who it was- Shalini Seereeram…”

Fourteen-year-old St Joseph’s Convent (Port of Spain) third form student Surayya Carrington is our fourth shortlisted fictional writer for the inaugural Wired868 Write Start competition. Her essay is in the 11-15 category entitled ‘The day I met my local hero’:

Photo: Gifted Trinidad and Tobago artist Shalini Seereeram.
(Copyright Maria Nunes 2020)

School has always been a rather dull place to me, that’s why I wait desperately for the bell to ring signalling the end of the day. That day, like any other, it was last period and as usual I wasn’t paying attention to the lesson. 

My mind focused on the tick…tock…tick…tock of the overhead clock, which drowned out Ms Claire’s math lesson. As soon as the bell chimed, I strolled out of the dreary classroom towards the gate. That was until I spotted a quite familiar face. 

I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at the person sitting on the bus bench. My body quivered and my heart throbbed. Something inside urged me to get closer to them. 

Drawn closer, it felt like I was wading through knee-deep water. My throat ached and my mouth went completely dry. Standing beside them, I knew exactly who it was- Shalini Seereeram. With a trembling hand I lightly tapped her shoulder. She jolted upright, book in hand, and her saucer-like eyes opened wide in surprise. 

I struggled to find the right words, “H-hi my n-name is Amaris C-Clove and I’m a huge fan of your artwork.” 

Image: It was just another boring day in school. Until…

A gentle smile played across her face. Her clothes were covered in paint, her arms garnished in decorative beaded bracelets that shimmered in the sunlight.

“Hello Amaris, it’s nice to meet you, do you do art as well?” I nodded my head vigorously and showed her the sketchbook in my hand. 

After flipping through a few pages, she noted, “These are impressive, you must really like working in dark mediums.” 

My expression fell grim as I explained, “You see…I can’t see colours so that’s why I use only dark mediums.” 

Her eyes went solemn. “That’s okay Amaris, your work is amazing, and it needs to be seen!” She commented enthusiastically. 

I was at a loss for words-disbelief! ‘Shalini Seereeram likes my work’ repeated itself in my head. 

Photo: Artist Shalini Seereeram.

Quite unexpectedly she asked, “Would you like to come to my studio?” 

I snapped back into reality. Dazed, I accompanied her to the art studio. Strolling down the street, the world floated past in shades of grey. The towering trees with its patterned leaves, reflected my whirling thoughts. ‘What does it look like in colour?’

Bumping into Shalini, we came to a halt in front of an unappealing complex covered in overgrown vines. Shalini unlatched the front gate and trotted towards the door with its peeling paint. As she opened the door I froze and so did time. I was propelled into another dimension. 

My body tensed, and my eyes welled up. Colours were everywhere, strange ones I’ve never seen before danced all over me. It felt surreal. Shalini took me further into the studio and everything with a life of its own, glowed brilliantly as I walked past the pieces. 

My eyes lingered aimlessly over every detail; my mind still not able to believe what was happening. ‘So- this- is what it’s like… to see colours.’

“I can see them… the colours,” I whispered under my breath, as I admired the vibrant artwork that were on display. 

Photo: Artist Shalini Seereeram at work…
(Copyright Maria Nunes 2020)

Shalini came over and asked what I meant. I relayed what happened from the sudden burst of colour to me now being able to see them. Shalini simply stared at me in shock, unable to understand what took place just moments ago. I built up the courage and asked her, “Would you teach me the colours?” 

This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and I took it like my life depended on it. 

Later, Shalini taught me everything she could about colours. I was mesmerised by her words as she spoke of all the different shades of blues, greens and even browns. In the end, I realised my favourite colour was yellow since it was so bright and full of life. 

Before I could leave the studio, Shalini stopped me at the door and asked, “Can I display your art in my studio?” 

The expression on my face was enough to answer her question. As I got near to my home all the colours melted away like ice but that didn’t change how I felt.

Knowing that I got to experience colours with my hero was enough for me.

Editor’s Note: Wired868 will announce the winners of the inaugural Write Start competition on 13 December 2021. The first place winner will get TT$6,000, a six month mobile plan from bmobile, and two complimentary movie tickets to CinemaONE.

Click HERE for more information on the Wired868 Write Start prize structure and do share your favourite essays!

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  1. Congratulations Surabaya. Very well composed and written

  2. Congratulations Suraya on a well written and excellent piece. I support your continued efforts.

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